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The new rules - which come into force Thursday 5 November and last until 2 December when they automatically expire - introduce an amended version of the lockdown in Spring. What was legal before may be illegal now - especially in relation to off sales of alcohol. We have broken down the regulations and have tried to put them in context to give operators examples of what can and cannot be undertaken. We then try to answer some of the questions that have arisen to give real life working examples of how we see the regulations being enforced.
As is the way with these regulations, there may be detail in Guidance that modifies this interpretation. However, given the seriousness of the changes, it is important to try to set out what we understand them to require in advance of them coming into force.
The new regulations divide businesses into 3 categories:
This is a bit of a misnomer as it only includes the following:
This is a long list, but includes hospitality businesses such as:
There is a long list, but it includes:
In simple terms:
Food and drink can only be sold for consumption away from the premises
The regulations are not easy to interpret, but they state:
Please remember that selling hot food and hot drink after 11pm requires a premises licence for late night refreshment.
Alcohol can be sold at any time subject to permitted hours on your premises licence for drinking off and away from the premises (off sales) as part of:
The premises is widely defined here, so you cannot sell alcohol to customers and either provide them with seating outside, or otherwise permit them to use any areas that customers might ordinarily use to drink - such as pavements, seating areas or car parks adjacent to the premises.
Q: I run a restaurant and a customer comes in at 6pm, orders a pizza and a bottle of wine. What can I sell them and how do I do it?
A: You can take the order for the pizza, process it and the customer can wait in the premises for it before taking it away. The bottle of wine would have to be ordered ‘in advance’ and you would have to deliver it to the customer outside the premises. As such, the customer could go outside, phone through an order for the bottle and you could take it to them outside.
Q: I have a hotel. What can I sell to my residents and how would this work?
A: Guests staying at the hotel can order room service, which is specifically exempt, but the bar and restaurant must be closed to residents who, like customers, cannot eat or drink in there. You must comply with the ordinary conditions on your premises licence.
Q: Can I accept take away orders for alcohol alone up until the terminal hour on my licence?
A: So long as the alcohol is pre-ordered as set out above and the customer does not enter the premises, it would appear so. The Business and Planning Act granted off-sales for the majority of on-licensed premises until September 2021 so unless you have had off-sales specifically removed from your licence, you do not even need to have off-sales provision on your premises licence to do this.
Q: I run a 'Pub is the Hub’ grocery shop from my pub. Do the new regulations mean I cannot sell alcohol from the shop for customers coming in for their groceries?
A: No. the regulations only require you to close that part of the business that is restricted. Food retailers are within part 3 (above) and therefore any items sold as part of the shop side of the business, including alcohol, can still be sold.
Q: My bowling alley has a separate café and also a separate bar. Can I open these for off sales?
A: Yes, so long as you only offer off-sales in line with the different rules above in relation to sales of food and drink without alcohol and sales of alcohol.
Q: Do I need to sell food to sell alcohol?
A: No, it would appear that off- sales of alcohol can be made by home delivery or click and collect in line with the times and conditions on your licence. If you can offer a drive through facility, customers do not need to pre-order, so long as they do not leave their car.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at November 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.
05 November 2020